Community history project explores the links between the Derwent Valley Mills and Nottingham’s textile industry

Local people are being invited to take part in a community history project called Legacy Makers – exploring the cotton mill which the Evans family ran in Darley Abbey, now part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.  As well as investigating the history of the mill and discovering more about the people that worked in it, the project is also attempting to trace the journey of goods supplied to the mill including the sources of raw cotton from the Americas.  In addition, the project is exploring who the mill’s customers were and where they were located.   Archival research has led project volunteers to identify some of the Nottingham hosiers who were the mill’s customers during the late eighteenth century.  They hope to build on this research and trace other customers during the nineteenth century.  

The Legacy Makers project is therefore reflecting more widely on the lives of the cotton mill owners, cotton spinners, hosiers and framework knitters in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as well as the lives of the enslaved people who grew the cotton in the Americas.  The project is building a ‘story bank’ of information relating to individual people and families who worked in the textile industries in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire during the late eighteenth century through to the mid-nineteenth century as well as those involved in the supply of raw cotton.   Legacy Makers is keen to not only tell the story of powerful, well-connected people like the Evans family but also the forgotten people whose lives were intrinsically shaped by their work with cotton.   If you have a story to share about your Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire ancestors who worked in or supplied these industries or have discovered information relating to people who lived in your town or village (c. 1780s-1850s), please get in touch with Dr Helen Bates, Research Lead, by emailing helen@brightideasnottingham.co.uk.  Helen is also keen to hear from anyone interested in volunteering to help with archival research or genealogical research.

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